Ballymaloe LitFest 2014 & Claudia Roden’s Moroccan Orange & Almond Cake

Imagine the excitement of being placed in a situation where you are completely immersed in one of your true passions in life. Then add to this a few of your living idols. This was my weekend at Ballymaloe’s first literary festival last May. Throughout the course of the festival all attending were treated to talks, discussions and demos from world-renowned food and wine writers. Furthermore, day and night, there were the most scrumptious menus imaginable. The weekend was filled with the greatest of devotion and excitement about the future of our food. On the Sunday evening, as I drove home from Ballymaloe, my mind was a flurry with all I had experienced. I already was eagerly hoping that Litfest would become an annual event and to my delight, within a few weeks, a date was set for Litfest 2014. So with this to mind, you'll understand how exhilarating it was for me to receive an email from Ballymaloe LitFest, asking if I would like to be included in this year’s speaker line-up. I am honoured beyond belief and, like a child before Christmas, I'm counting down the days to May 16th. One of the big draws to this year’s festival is author and broadcaster Yotam Ottolenghi {his dinner event sold out in 4 minutes.Thankfully I secured my ticket!}. 
There are many food writers flying in from all over the world, for the event, but there is also plenty of home-grown Irish talent. The Irish food blogging world will also be represented by Donal Skehan, Lilly Higgins, Caroline Hennessy and Imen McDonnell. Together we are on a panel, along with Tom Doorley and Tom Parker Bowles, which will be chaired by David Prior. The topic is "Food & Wine Blogging - No Publisher, No Editor - Is it Good Enough?". I expect that this topic will make for a very interesting discussion
I'm also taking part in a panel discussion about food styling and photography in cookbooks. I'll be joining Tim Hayward, Donal Skehan, Lily Higgins and Simon Hopkinson and we'll be in conversation with the lovely Rachel Allen. 

The tickets for Litfest went on sale last week. If you have any sort of an interest in food I’d urge you to book your spot on what promises to be another sensational weekend. All details of speakers and events can be found on

Ballymaloe House

Claudia Roden’s Moroccan Orange & Almond Cake

As I’m on the topic of Litfest I would like to share with you the recipe of a cake I tasted at last year’s festival. It’s a recipe by the wonderful Claudia Roden. Ms. Roden is regarded as the most influential middle-eastern and Mediterranean food writer of her times. I happened to be sat next to her at dinner in Ballymaloe. We had a marvellous chat and with those who are truly great in their chosen fields she shared her incredible knowledge with such ease and modesty. This is one of her most famous cake recipes, as it truly is delicious, perfectly moist and it is also very easy to make.  It serves well as a dessert after a spicy meal, but as it is a little virtuous this cake makes for a marvelous elevenses. 

2 large organic oranges, washed
6 free range eggs
250g ground almonds
250g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder

To Serve- {optional}
A grating of orange zest
whipped cream
26 cm springform round tin, with a removable base, buttered and floured


1. Place the oranges, unpeeled, into a saucepan with 500 mls of water. Cover with a lid and allow to boil for 1 ½-2 hours, until the oranges have completely softened.
2. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C /Gas Mark 5.

3. Let the oranges cool, then cut them open and remove the pips.  Make the oranges into a pulp by putting them in a food processor or an electric blender.
4. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, and then add these along with the ground almonds, caster sugar and baking powder to the orange pulp in the processor. Mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour. If the cake is still very wet, leave it in the oven for a little longer. Cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar.


Caroline@Bibliocook said...

Love that cake! So looking forward to LitFest. See you there.

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Looks delicious & I'll bet your home smelled amazing!

Nessa Robins said...

We'll have a wonderful weekend, Caroline. I'm counting down the weeks :)

Nessa Robins said...

Thanks, Mary. That cake is so good. I'll have to make it again this week!